Would understanding SEO be much easier if you were buddies with one of Google’s Search Quality Raters?
Well, the Search Quality Raters do not have the entire equation for cracking the mysterious Google algorithm. What they do know, however, is what Google considers low quality or high quality. That’s enough information to get some SEO edge.
You are in luck as you don’t have to know one of these guys to lay your hands on this information. Towards the end of 2015, a version of Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines was leaked.
Bad news for Google, good news for you.
A few weeks later, Google found it wise to release the full version of the document to the public. The 160 page document gives some useful information on what Google considers to provide the “best user experience” to searchers.
For someone who is fixated with understanding SEO, I found the document to have some eye-opening insights. Going through the document, I could hear Google asking me two fundamental questions over and over:
- “Can I trust you?”
- “Does your content really deserve to rank at the top?”
Unsettling questions, aren’t they?
Google’s obsession with my trustworthiness or me being deserving of a premium ranking is for one simple reason: their entire business model depends on their ability to deliver the best content from the most trustworthy sources to their users all the time, or at least most of the time.
Google’s near monopoly of the web stems from their ability (or perceived ability) to deliver on this promise. This explains why the term “best user experience” has been gaining a lot of traction in the SEO world. You have to give customers what they want. There is no way around it.
Let’s look at how Google gauges if you are giving its users what they want…
Being Deserving of a Premium Ranking
If you log in to your Google Analytics dashboard, you’ll encounter terms like:
- time on site
- bounce rate
- click through rates
These terms explain how users interact with your site. If you make it to the top of Google and you do not give the searchers what they want, your bounce rates are going to be very high and the CTR and time on site are going to be very low. Bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who on clicking through to your web page, leave without viewing other pages on the site.
Google will eventually figure out that your page is no good and push it down on its search results.
You want to make sure that you actually deserve to rank at the top. You do this by giving the searchers what they want and having the best resource for that particular keyword phrase.
The Trust Factor
“You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” – Jim Rohn.
Turns out there are some big Jim Rohn fans at Google. They have taken the advice to heart and applied it to their search engine’s algorithm.
According to Google, if you are linking to and being linked to by mostly untrustworthy sites, you are – by association – untrustworthy. You should therefore ensure that your online neighborhood consists of awesome people.
One of the big beneficiaries of this Google bias is the big brand company. Google trusts brands. That’s why sites like Wikipedia, Huffington Post, BBC, Quora and others seem to rank for almost anything under the sun. You want to mimic the signals these sites give to Google.
There must be some conversation about your business online. Do you have active social media profiles? Is your company mentioned in industry forums?
If you submit your company details on various business listing sites and directories, make sure that the details are uniform in all the listings. You don’t want one directory saying that you are headquartered in New York and another directory saying that your headquarters are in Boston.
Understanding SEO: The Takeaway
Understanding SEO is not that hard. Before you go into the technical details make sure you take care of the fundamentals like knowing what your customer really wants. This way, your other technical SEO efforts will not be wasted.